Everyone remembers Cujo. On the surface, it’s a pretty simple story -mother and child are hunted by a rabid St. Bernard- and yet Stephen King was able to turn that basic idea into the novel Cujo, causing every pet owner to look at old rover with a newly wary eye. Cujo is also one of the most frightening film adaptations of a Stephen King novel for much the same reason. No one could have performed better than Dee Wallace as the mother protecting her child from that enormous, rabid beast. The story of Cujo, whether in novel or film version, would be one of the first to be inducted into a horror hall of fame, if one existed.
Now for the bad news: there is a Cujo reboot in the works. For traditional Stephen King fans already rolling their eyes at this tragic news, it might be wise to reserve those frustrated groans for some worse news. It seems Cujo is getting a 21st century update, complete with a new, high-tech name. Cujo is now C.U.J.O., which stands for “Canine Unit Joint Operations.”
Let the groans and eye-rolls commence.
The C.U.J.O. acronym implies much more than a mere name change. The phrase “Canine Unit Joint Operations” would suggest that the friendly St. Bernard from the original Cujo film is now part of a highly-trained law enforcement or military canine unit, possibly also the subject of genetic manipulation. As knowledge of the plot is mostly sketchy at this point, it seems possible that C.U.J.O. could even be a cyborg of some kind, possibly something borrowing from the Terminator films.
This isn’t the first time a film adaptation has revamped a Stephen King novel, giving it a sci-fi edge and computerized special effects. Remember The Lawnmower Man? No? You’re not alone. In fact, the film was so bad that Stephen King successfully sued to have his name removed from the project, stating in court documents that the movie “bore no meaningful resemblance” to his novel.
As details begin to emerge about C.U.J.O., it seems to be a telling factor that Mr. King has yet to comment on the new adaptation.
It remains to be seen how faithful C.U.J.O. will be to Stephen King’s original source material, or even to the 1983 Cujo film, but taking a military perspective seems to imply that much of the original plot would also have to be changed. It seems unlikely that a highly trained, genetically engineered canine unit would find itself running free in rural Maine.
[Featured image courtesy of Warner Bros./Cujo]